Second Year Syndrome: Why the Grass is Indeed Greener
Hello, and welcome. I am in the midst of finals right now and I realized I am experiencing a pretty heavy case of Second Year Syndrome. It is defined as “disillusionment with university in second year”, since first year excitement has worn off, and the end is still pretty far. Well, while this may be a popular sickness amongst students, I am here to save the day. In this piece, I will be sharing my lessons from getting through half of my degree, some advice and overall tips (that will be hopefully be helpful). [Obviously, this is all from my personal experience and is highly subjective, so if you do not agree with something or it does not apply to you, that is perfectly fine.]
First of all, try to avoid 8:30 a.m. classes. Maybe you are a morning person, and hey, that’s great, but I am for sure not. When I have a class that early, I usually don’t eat breakfast because I am trying to sleep in as much as possible. Meanwhile, if I have a class at 10 a.m., I can wake up comfortably, get ready, make breakfast and coffee (10 is still early, OK?) and get to class and actually be awake and pay attention and not just think about food the entire time (having pancakes in your head for an hour and a half is super distracting).
Secondly, choose your professors wisely. Everyone has different methods of learning, so having a professor that complements your style of taking in information is crucial. Otherwise, you are not going to learn anything and will have to study everything on your own and suffer. To choose your professor, read about them on the Telfer website, ask your friends in current year if they had that prof last semester and talk to people in higher years about their experiences. It is also worth it to go to different sections at the beginning of the semester and “try out” different professors’ teaching so then you can easily switch your section on uOzone and already know what your professor will be like.
Thirdly, to get over the sadness of your Second Year Syndrome, try to get involved, but be smart with it. I go more into depth about it in my other article: Getting Involved: How and Why. In short, don’t try to fill up your entire schedule with events and activities, because it is easy to lose track of what’s important - school! Instead, focus on a couple things that are the most important to you and allocate enough time for studying, while taking your involvement into account.
OK, that is all great, but how do we get over the Syndrome mentally? Well, in my experience, the grass is actually greener - Second Year is more fun than first year since you know everyone, but keep in mind it is also the hardest year. BUT your later years will be better. We get all the technical mathematical courses like Business Analytics and Statistics over within the first two years, and then we get to specialize and actually do what we want to do. Personally, I can’t wait to take actual marketing courses that will help me narrow down my focus and allow me to learn about the industry I am passionate about. So think about these first two years as the time to develop your work ethic so you can do well in your ~fun~ latter years.
Another thing that I did to make my last years at Telfer more fun was not take any electives (number of electives differs based on specialization) in second year. Instead, I took ADM2000 course code classes that were scheduled for third year such as Human Resources Management and Management Information Systems. That way, I have a somewhat more challenging year right now, but will have the opportunity to take more electives later on and change up what I learn about.
To summarize, prioritize your physical and mental health, make wise decisions, get advice where needed and just know - it gets better and the grass is greener, you just need to cross the road to get to it. I think now is a good time to mention an initiative that has been going around recently, Project Lets (letserasethestigma.com), that says: “There is nothing cool, strong, or hero-worthy about not sleeping or eating. This is not healthy or okay.” The project encourages students to take care of themselves during the finals season and not romanticize the culture of overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion. Please try to take that in, and budget your time wisely so you have time to sleep and eat, and check up on your friends to see how they are doing.
Lastly, yes finals are not fun, but you know what is? Summer. There is just a little over a week left until the end of finals season. Good luck!